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N’awlinz – dis dat n d’udda
An influential and respected figure in evolutionary terms, though never stratospherically successful, the good Doctor (still) specialises in a heady, ebullient, high-spirited brew of jazz, soul and piano-based Southern boogie-woogie.
Craig Fitzsimons, 19 Jul 2004
Historians who love to fall out over these things are divided bitterly over whether Memphis or New Orleans was the true birthplace of rock’n’roll, but those inclined to champion the latter’s case will find copious ammunition in Dr. John’s sweepingly ambitious N’Awlinz - Dis dat n d’Udda, intended as a loose history of New Orleans music.
An influential and respected figure in evolutionary terms, though never stratospherically successful, the good Doctor (still) specialises in a heady, ebullient, high-spirited brew of jazz, soul and piano-based Southern boogie-woogie, and ropes in an intimidatingly impressive roll-call of guests that includes Randy Newman, Willie Nelson and BB King among others. Satchmo’s ‘When The Saints Go Marching In’, ever-so-slightly decimated by several generations of football fans, is rendered here with an increasing intensity and spiritual frenzy that sounds as if every church gospel singer alive has lent their voice to the throng - but most of Dis Dat n d’Udda is infinitely more laid-back and jazzy, with effective touches of brass, and the laziest, most humidity-soaked atmosphere audible anywhere since Willy DeVille’s Victory Mixture. Strangest of all, Willie Nelson sounds in an uncharacteristic rage (‘My woman is phoney…If I wanna catch her in a crooked act, all I do is throw a brick at the front door/ And run around to the back.’)
Highly congenial without ever threatening to blow the mind, Dis Dat n d’Udda will hardly have the kids queueing round the block, but there’s no arguing with the sheer stylistic range on display, or the evergreen enthusiasm the old Doctor brings to the party.